'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menorise; Saturday Sayings

"...and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
(Anais Nin)

Menobservayshunul; Rounding Off

I know, it's not Film Club day. However, when preparing yesterday's post, I stumbled upon these two clips which tie in perfectly with the main theme of this week and seemed like the best way to end it.

The first is about the takeover by the National Trust and does mention how it is 'not necessarily comfortable or safe'  to visit there; backing up my decision to refrain from the intended trip over there on the recent sojourn! The second is just a beauty-run with a drone showing the cold-war buildings. Notably the 'pagodas'. The design was such that, in the event of an explosion, the columns would just collapse and the solid roof would fall and seal the chamber completely. (The music is pretty good and suits the scene well.)

Me-no-here; or the F.Y.E.O. post 2

Picking up from Monday's post, wherein you had some background offered to the place called Orfordness. It is nothing but a long shelf of shingle on the Anglian coast, but it has served a strong and mostly silent part in Britain's military history. My father was a part of it in the late 60's early 70's of the 20th century.

Everyone was hyper about nuclear attack (or potential for it) and the intended purpose of the antenna being built was to provide early warning if USSR got trigger-happy. Building such a visible item, though, meant having to provide cover stories and the key one was that this was simply a radio relay and transmission station. Fake News, if you will - government generated. It is quite the art. Even though much (most) documentation in regard to Cobra Mist has been declassified, there is still quite a bit of the mysterious about it. Back in the day, though, all sorts of things were being reported.

For dad, though, it was just a job of engineering. There was recently a Channel 5 show about that time, which he and I watched together with great interest and I was much entertained by his mutterings of disagreement in places. One of the comments of the presenter was that there were very few photographs of the array...

Father trundled through to his cupboard and returned with a binder in which were the newspaper clippings and a host of photos he had taken at the time! (This was when he had a dark room at home and I would go in and help with developing...and, oh yes, he'd signed the Official Secrets Act.)

His memory remains quite clear about the work carried out and some of the challenges faced. He never named to me the main contractor, the American partner whose design and specifications it was Balfour Beatty's job to make manifest - only in researching for these posts did I discover it was RCA. One of the things the show didn't make clear - or was even misleading about - is that only the end poles were of the metal 'pylon' type. The rest of the array was concrete poles. Different from anything BB had done before, these poles were in sections and to be 'cemented' with a fancy-schmancy resin glue.... which didn't work as planned. There were also design flaws in the way the lines were tensioned. Lots of hurdles to be jumped to get the thing together.

There was trouble with the poles cracking. This he told me about but it was not spoken of in the tv program. What was mentioned was that the whole thing, after only a few months of commisioning, was shut up and demounted. He also backed up the talk of 'too much noise' for the billion-dollar (in today's rates) array to be useful. That's one big white hephalumpus! There are a number of archived and declassified docs on the inquiries made as to the whys and wherefores of so much US Govt funding going into a shingle spit to lie with all the unexploded ordinance there. Nothing is really conclusive. Without saying anything, I got the distinct impression the father considered the design doomed from the start. This paper was the shortest and (potentially) most interesting to read on the matter of RCA's part in things. It contains this excerpt, which pertains directly to the flaws mentioned above.

Some of the 'heavy plant' caused issues too. The 'push-me-pull-you' truck was okay till it got grabbed by the gravel. The crane was fine; until it wasn't.

Fun times. What struck me most was the futuristic beauty of the structures and the intended coverage of the completed array. It's all done by digital signals and satellites now, of course.

I leave you with a few more images.